By Lynn Magdol
In mid-February, along with chocolate and roses, we often see interviews with long-lasting couples who reveal the secret of their success. Being in a duo of several decades myself, I know to expect the usual: grow and change in coordination with each other; grow and change in coordination with the outside world. This got me thinking about the other great passion in my life. Yes, my husband knows about it and he approves of it. In fact, it started long before I met him. I’m talking about my love affair with fabric.
This is a relationship that has grown and changed in coordination over time. Starting in the fifth grade and throughout high school, it was mostly a matter of sewing cotton skirts and dresses. At one point, I found the courage to make a light wool winter coat. I made a dressy linen dress: a slinky sheath with a large flower print. Synthetic fabrics were not yet seen or used by home sewers. Like a good wife in the early years of a marriage, I stuck to the rules, using purchased patterns and following the instructions faithfully.
Over time, I became more adventurous. I took an upholstery class and learned to wrap fabric around something other than myself. After covering numerous seat pads and overstuffed chairs, I took the idea of three-dimensional fabric in a new direction, making soft sculpture cakes for birthday gifts. With the variety of newly developed synthetic fabrics, I had many choices of color, texture, and pattern to mimic baked goods.
A fuzzy brown velour scrap became the basis for a black forest cake. A pencil sharpener and a brown crayon produced the chocolate shavings to go on top. I used shiny red satin for the cherry sauce on top of a slice of cheesecake. A spice cake was topped with chopped walnuts made from fish tank gravel.
Moving beyond cakes, I sewed up a serving of McDonald’s french fries, a hot sauce bottle, and a set of mustard and ketchup bottles, using a photocopy machine to produce iron-on transfers for labels. My growing courage to be creative and move beyond rules provided excitement and a new dynamic to nourish the relationship.
As we’ve learned about recycling and reducing waste, I have discovered the art of remaking old items into fresh and new ones. Long skirts were shortened. Short skirts were cut up for vests or scarves.
As ready-made clothing became less expensive, my bank account became flush and the time demands of my career grew. As a result, I found myself making fewer clothes but still wanting to work with fabric. I love making purses from collages of scraps. I get outdated sample books at furniture stores to add to my stash. Lately, I’ve expanded from purses to recyclable grocery totes, embellishing them with ribbons, beads, button, lace and leftover fabrics.
My passion for fabric has outlasted a number of interests that, in comparison, I would have to call mere infatuations. I am never bored at a fabric store or my sewing table. If anyone asked me why this love affair has lasted, I would have two reasons. One, keep it interesting by growing and changing rather than stagnating. Reach outside the box and try breaking the rules. Two, be aware of the world and how it is changing. Be flexible and allow yourself and the relationship to change with the changing times.
Lynn Magdol, of Buffalo, is happily retired and enjoys having more time to express her love for fabric.